LEEDS RHINOS got what they deserved from last night’s tussle with Warrington Wolves, going down to a defeat that could be costly to their fading top-four hopes.
Rhinos were poor for all but a 15-minute spell after half-time when they went from 11-4 behind to 22-11 ahead.
That lead should have been enough, but Leeds went to pieces in the final quarter and anything other than a Wolves win would have been an injustice.
Rhinos were a shambles for the most of the first half and the last 20. They were lucky to be only seven points adrift at the break.
Warrington led after eight minutes. Harvey Livett collected Richie Myler’s kick behind his own line and managed to get back into play.
At the end of the set he kicked ahead, the ball took a rebound, was hacked on again by Harvey Livett and then Kevin Brown, who ran through to touch down. Video referee Phil Bentham confirmed the try and Bryson Goodwin added the extras.
Tackles by Kallum Watkins on Goodwin and Ash Handley, who forced Ryan Atkins to lose possession, denied Wolves a second try and then Atkins touched down, but that was ruled out by Bentham, agreeing with referee Ben Thaler’s initial assessment.
Bentham, however, awarded Warrington a penalty for Josh Charnley being tackled in the air by Ryan Hall, only for Goodwin’s kick to strike a post.
Soon afterwards, though, Leeds’s defence was caught out by Livett and he sneaked over from acting-half on the last. Goodwin could not convert, but at 10-0 Warrington were in total control.
Rhinos got their first penalty in the 23rd minute, Myler took it quickly, but his long kick was kept in play by Tom Lineham
Rhinos were a shambles for the most of the first half and the last 20. They were lucky to be only seven points adrift at the break.Peter Smith
Ashton Golding dropped a couple of bread and butter kicks and his second error almost proved costly as Tyrone Roberts’s kick was brilliantly taken by Livett and he offloaded by Ben Murdoch-Masila.
He seemed to have scored, but Thaler thought otherwise and Bentham agreed the substitute forward had been grounded just short, by Myler and Watkins.
Fans in the partially occupied South Stand reacted to Golding’s second error by chanting his name. That was a nice touch and he got Leeds back in the game.
They hadn’t applied any sustained pressure before then, but Myler was taken out in the air by Murdoch-Masila after a kick to give the hosts an opportunity.
Leeds tapped the penalty and Golding stormed over, through Livett’s attempted tackle, off Myler’s pass.
Bentham was asked to have a look, yet again and he gave the green light, but Watkins could not add the extras.
Warrington went two scores clear on the final play of the half when Roberts, under no pressure, booted a one-pointer, the sixth drop goal conceded by Leeds this season.
Aided by a couple of penalties against Warrington in possession, Leeds made a much better start to the second half.
Sitaleki Akauola was penalised for interference as he played the ball and in the resulting set Joel Moon got past Atkins from Myler’s pass.
Watkins’s conversion made it a one-point ball game.
Leeds went ahead with 25 minutes to go with a quality try. Parcell did well from dummy-half, Myler was involved twice and Ablett provided the final pass which Hall finished at the corner.
Watkins landed a tremendous touchline goal and, almost immediately, Ablett ran a fine line on to Myler’s pass, after Jamie Jones-Buchanan had handled and the captain converted from the same spot, via a post. Suddenly Rhinos had the game in their pocket, but Jones-Buchanan knocked-on from the restart and Warrington scored in the next set, Atkins touching down from Brown’s kick.
Ratchford added the extras to leave the visitors just five adrift with 17 minutes left and they were back in front seven later when Rivett romped over from a pass by Ratchford, who added the extras.
In the set from the restart Livett completed his hat-trick with a try brilliantly created by Daryl Clark, Ratchford and Roberts, though there was no goal.
Ryan Atkins had a touchdown ruled out by the video referee two minutes from time – when he was held up – but Murdoch-Masila crashed over later in the set to complete the scoring.
Leeds: Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Handley, Hall, Moon, Myler, Singleton, Ferres, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ward, Ablett. Substitutes: Peteru, Mullally, Walters, Parcell.
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Charnley, K. Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Livett, Hughes, Westwood. Substitutes: Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Akauola, Philbin.
Referee: B Thaler (RFL).